Pastor claims ‘hate crime’ when vandal spray-paints Bible verse on church building: ‘A violation of space’

News & Politics

Police in South Dakota are investigating a case of vandalism at an LGBT-affirming church that the pastor claims is an incident of “hate.”

Sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning last week, a vandal used red spray paint to vandalize the Mitchell Congregational United Church of Christ located in Mitchell, South Dakota.

‘We are a church that extends Christ’s love freely. … We’re supportive of LGBTQ rights.’

“Repent” and “Leviticus 18:22” — and the message of Leviticus 18:22 — were spray-painted at various locations around the building.

Leviticus 18:22 addresses homosexuality and reads:

You shall not sleep with a male as one sleeps with a female; it is an abomination.

Pastor Matt Richards told the Mitchell Republic that what happened is a “hate crime” because Mitchell Congregational UCC is the only church in town that flies rainbow Pride flags and celebrates Pride Month.

“It’s definitely a violation of space and a religious hate crime,” he told the newspaper. “We are welcoming of all people. We are a church that extends Christ’s love freely. … We’re supportive of LGBTQ rights.”

In a Facebook post, the church described the spray-painted message as one of “hate,” presumably a reference to so-called hate speech.

“After the vandalism of our building, friends, allies and members gathered today for support and beautification in re-covering the love over hate. Thanks to everyone who came out to share in the beautiful recovery,” the church said.

Not only was the church targeted with spray paint vandalism, but a display outside the church — a set of doors painted in rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ community — were taken down, KELO-TV reported. Church members have since restored the display.

The United Church of Christ is one of the most liberal Protestant denominations in the U.S. Denominational beliefs include the idea that abortion is “reproductive justice” and “health care.” The UCC also endorses same-sex marriage, promotes transgender ideology, including the full “LGBTQIA+” spectrum.

Mitchell Police are investigating the incident but have not yet apprehended the culprit.

Blaze News reached out to Pastor Richards for comment. He did not respond.

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